by Rob Cottman
I have had the fortunate opportunity to meet many people throughout my life and travels, and every single one of them has taught me something about getting where you want to go. In this current chapter of my life as Executive Chef of World Cafe Live, I am grateful to work alongside many people in both the hospitality and music industry who are working hard daily to stay sharp in their respective fields. Here you will find my interviews with some of those people, and an exclusive inside look behind the scenes of who we are and what we do and why we love it.
MEET RICHARD KOILOR
Collaborating with other independent businesses on various projects is one of the best parts of my job. While Covid has put a halt on a lot of our plans, we are still doing what we can to connect with some of our favorite partners, as well as meeting some new ones. One new partner I am excited to have met is Richard Koilor, co-founder of Two Locals Brewing Company. We will be featuring one of their beers in our upcoming adaptation of our annual Beer Fest, and I had a chance to learn more about their plans for craft beer in Philadelphia.
RC: Where are you at on your journey to open your brick-and-mortar location for Two Locals Brewing Company?
RK: We are currently reviewing a lease that we have received for a location in West Philly. While we figure that out, we are about to begin contract brewing so we can have cashflow that can be used towards our brick and mortar.
RC: Opening a brewery is no small feat, what made you decide to take the leap and make it happen? How has the existing Philly beer scene responded so far?
RK: We wanted to open our own brewery because we saw the lack of black brewers and black owned breweries. We also discovered that there was never a black owned brewery in Philadelphia and wanted to make that happen. We already had a love for craft beer and the brewing process so opening our own space was the next step. Often time we would be the only black people in a brewery, which I’m sure other black people can relate. We hope to change that with our brewery.
The beer scene in Philadelphia has been very welcoming. A lot of breweries and brewers have reached out to us to offer their help and knowledge. Craft beer is more so about the small breweries vs. the large, macro breweries so the more the merrier.
RC: What has been the biggest challenge to date?
RK: The biggest challenge to date has been securing the capital to open our brewery. We are taking multiple routes to secure our funding.
RC: You started Two Locals Brewing with your brother, what has it meant to work alongside him in this process?
RK: My brother is somebody who I have looked up to all my life and somebody I respect. He is somebody who I can have an honest conversation with. He is very analytical and can see things differently than I do. I think that is important in business because you want somebody who will challenge you to think beyond your initial thought so that you get a full view and understanding before decisions are made.
RC: As so much of the industry, and the City, continues to suffer under the weight of Covid, how have your plans changed and where have you had to make your most drastic pivot from your original vision?
RK: Because of COVID-19, we want our location to have an outdoor space. Something more than sidewalk space. We think an outdoor space is key to operating around COVID-19. We also have had to change our financials and budgets to support a take-out driven business model. Breweries want to sell beer off tap as much as possible, but in this climate, draft sales are not what they once used to be and packaged beer is much more preferable. We believe we will still succeed but will not grow as fast as we would if we were able to sell more beer from draft.
RC: Just naming a business is a tricky, where did Two Locals come from and how did you know that was the one?
RK: We came up with the name Two Locals rather quickly. We bounced around a few ideas before we agreed on the name. Thinking about breweries in Philadelphia, we found that most of the brewers or owners were not FROM Philadelphia and we were. We are two local African American men who are trying to start their own brewery. The name rolled of the tongue easily. It had a nice ring to it. Once we said it we immediately knew it was the right choice.
RC: Although Philly is a beer loving city with a predominantly Black population, the Black community is often underserved and overlooked when it comes to the local craft beer scene. Where do you see Two Locals role in resolving that disconnect?
RK: We hope to bridge the gap by showing our community that there is more to beer than Bud Light, Heineken, or Guinness. We want to show what goes into making craft beer and show that you can incorporate almost any flavor you wish. When our community learns that we are the people brewing the beer they become more interested in the product. Once we have a location to show people where the beer is made and how we operate, we think the black community will start to open their palettes more to craft beer.
RC: What is your favorite thing about craft beer and what do you recommend people try first who are used to standard domestic brands?
RK: My favorite thing about craft beer is that brewing is a balance between art and science. You can produce almost any flavor that you wish within a beer. If people were more educated on beer than they would be more open to trying different craft beers. I think a good start to craft beer would be finding a beer that is similar to macro-beer in a local brewery and start there. If you aren’t sure about that, a Belgian White Beer is a good introduction as well as Sour or Tart beers because they are not what most people think of when they think of beer.
RC: What are some of your favorite dishes to eat while enjoying your beers?
RK: I cook and eat a lot of spicy food because of my Liberian and Jamaican background. I like an IPA or a dark beer because it helps counter the heat.
RC: What has been your most popular beer to date and where can people find it?
RK: Our most popular beer is between our brown ale, Nubian, and our IPA, Prolific. We are making progress to begin contract brewing and we hope to have those two beers available by the end of February/start of March.